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  • Age
  • Title
    Assistant professor
  • Company
    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a push for digital contact-tracing apps, which use smartphones to automatically track viral exposures—work normally done by health workers on the ground. One problem, though, is that tech users are protective of their privacy, and an app that traces both location and health information is potentially ripe for abuse. That anxiety could suppress adoption, which would hamper the contact-tracing apps’ effectiveness. To tackle the problem, Carmela Trancoso, a computer science professor at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, helped lead the push to build the Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing system, or DP-3T. The system stores temporary, anonymized contact data on a user’s phone, rather than on a central server, making hacks or misuse much harder. The system’s design (along with similar ideas out of Stanford University’s Covid Watch) helped guide Apple and Google’s development of a shared contact-tracing protocol, which is now being used by contact-tracing apps across Europe and the U.S.

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